Natural Resources Research
School of Science
Funding information available at https://doi.org/10.1007/s11053-018-9423-2
Prediction of true classes of surficial and deep earth materials using multivariate spatial data is a common challenge for geoscience modelers. Most geological processes leave a footprint that can be explored by geochemical data analysis. These footprints are normally complex statistical and spatial patterns buried deep in the high-dimensional compositional space. This paper proposes a spatial predictive model for classification of surficial and deep earth materials derived from the geochemical composition of surface regolith. The model is based on a combination of geostatistical simulation and machine learning approaches. A random forest predictive model is trained, and features are ranked based on their contribution to the predictive model. To generate potential and uncertainty maps, compositional data are simulated at unsampled locations via a chain of transformations (isometric log-ratio transformation followed by the flow anamorphosis) and geostatistical simulation. The simulated results are subsequently back-transformed to the original compositional space. The trained predictive model is used to estimate the probability of classes for simulated compositions. The proposed approach is illustrated through two case studies. In the first case study, the major crustal blocks of the Australian continent are predicted from the surface regolith geochemistry of the National Geochemical Survey of Australia project. The aim of the second case study is to discover the superficial deposits (peat) from the regional-scale soil geochemical data of the Tellus Project. The accuracy of the results in these two case studies confirms the usefulness of the proposed method for geological class prediction and geological process discovery.
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